National Grid employee compensated for hearing loss05 December 2008
Exposed to dangerous levels of noise at work
A GMB member who was exposed to dangerous levels of noise in the workplace for over three decades has been compensated.
Stanley Owston, 67, from Hull has received £4,000 in damages after suffering occupational deafness.
He now uses a hearing aid as a result of the condition, caused by excessive noise.
His hearing became damaged when working for National Grid, as an assistant distribution fitter from 1963 until the early 1990s.
No hearing protection provided
He worked with a number of noisy tools including jackhammers and compressors but wasn’t provided with hearing protection until the mid 1980s. Even then, no instruction or advice was given on the dangers of excessive noise.
Mr Owston was advised to pursue compensation by his doctor following an audiogram in December 2006, which confirmed he had noise induced hearing loss in both ears.
He contacted his union, the GMB who instructed their lawyers Thompsons Solicitors.
National Grid admitted liability and a settlement was agreed out of court.
Deafness caused by work
Mr Owston, who is now retired, said: “When the doctor told me my ears were damaged he asked me where I had worked. He said that my deafness was without a doubt caused by my work.
“During the 1960s we didn’t wear any protection on our ears and even after that it was never consistently enforced. We were never warned that we might become deaf as a result of our work. I should not have been put in a situation where my health could suffer. By claiming compensation I wanted to warn others to demand adequate protection for their ears when working in a noisy environment.”
Andy Worth from the GMB said: “Many of our members have been negligently exposed to excessive levels of noise in the workplace by their employers, particularly those working on the highways or in manufacturing. Sadly even with the knowledge and the safety equipment available it continues today.
“It is only right that those deafened through their employer’s negligence should be compensated for the long term damage to their hearing.”
Carol Wild from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Employers have duty of care to ensure their employees are safeguarded against all dangers at work including excessive noise levels. Loss of hearing is sometimes thought to be a hazard of the job, if the employers provided no or no adequate protection it isn’t ‘just one of those things’, its negligent and compensatable.”
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